Boko Haram Turns Children into Suicide Bombers

Suicide bombers as girls
A 15-year-old Nigerian refugee at the Minawao refugee camp in Northern Cameroon last week. The girl was abducted by Boko Haram fighters and was freed months later by Cameroonian soldiers. (Karel Prinsloo / UNICEF)

In a report from Brent Swails and David McKenzie of CNN, titled “Kidnapped to kill: How Boko Haram is turning girls into weapons,” they outline the very reason why young girls are choosing to become used a ‘suicide bombers’.

In the report, this startling statement is made, “Young girls fighting to strap on a bomb, not because they were brainwashed by their captors’ violent indoctrination methods but because the relentless hunger and sexual abuse — coupled with the constant shelling — became too much to bear.

They wanted a way out, she says. They wanted an escape.”

Children as young as eight years of age have been used and most of them are girls according to Al Jazeera news. A UNICEF reports states that one of every five suicide bombers used by Boko Haram in the past two years has been a child.

The sadness and desperation in the eyes of many of these girls is overwhelming to those that have interviewed them. The mere fact that they are alive and willing to talk about these things is a sign of their strength of will.

Why would Boko Haram choose this method of pain? It’s proved to be quite effective. The tactic has increased the number of casualties since people do not usually see children as a threat. Unfortunately this act turns the girls against their very own communities and now these same communities are forces to be suspicion of young girl and women.

This results in the very impact that Boko Haram seeks to spread across Africa –fear.

In the LA Times article, one journalist says this, “Now, many of them are facing fear from their communities. That’s one of the terrible, tragic effects of using children to carry out bombings. When they return to their communities, they very often face stigmatization and isolation because they’re seen as being tainted by Boko Haram.” The report also warns that “abducted girls faced the risk of being … killed by suspicious communities.”


Al Jazeera:

Los Angeles Times:

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